Contemplative Corner – “The Kingdom of God is Near”

Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming the “good news” of the gospel, which is that “The time is fulfilled; and the kingdom of God has come near” (Mk 1:14-15). What is the Kingdom of God like? The birth of Christ signals the coming of God’s fulfillment with the purpose of helping us find our way home to God. The coming of Jesus into our lives offers us a home of meaning, belonging and acceptance wherever life’s journey takes us. Home is found by following Jesus in living and sharing the gospel here on earth. It refers both to the home we can find in God and the home he desires to establish for us.

For most of us home is a cherished destination as we journey through life. We long to find that place of belonging where we are accepted, loved, and safe. Home is not necessarily a physical place, but a place fostered by emotional connections developed with people of shared experiences and culture. For some home does not necessarily bring up feelings of love and belonging, but a place of pain and conflict. For others who enjoy a more settled life, there is still a deep longing for home because of feelings of emptiness, meaninglessness, or alienation. Often, we find ourselves trying to fill the emptiness in a variety of ways and not always healthy ones.

Jesus proposes that our ultimate and most secure place of belonging is found in the household of God. He blurs the boundaries of kinship and disrupts the status quo by expanding our understanding to include society’s least respected people, as he touches the lepers, heals the blind and sick, eats with tax collectors and includes women. Christ demonstrates that the Kingdom of God includes every kind of person, especially the most excluded, and that compassion and acceptance are core features of the household of God. 

We live in a world that too often denies people a home, both physical and emotional, and tells them they are unwanted and don’t belong. Baptism tells us who we are and whose we are: followers of Jesus. After baptism Jesus went out to teach and model what it looks like to be members of God’s household. We as members of God’s family are to extend love, offer compassion, care for the vulnerable and work to forgive. 

God’s kingdom is intended for the least powerful and most vulnerable, including children, refugees, people on welfare, or undocumented workers. This includes us when we are made vulnerable by life’s hardships or brought low by our own darkness. We all have a home in God’s realm of compassion, love, and acceptance by means of our salvation, made real to us through the gift of faith, by which we appropriate the work of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection.

So how do we find this home? Where is the kingdom of God? Jesus answers one of the religious leaders by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:29-31). We find our way into the Kingdom of God when we accept God’s love for us and follow Jesus on the path of righteousness, by loving God and our neighbors.  

Whenever we seize the opportunities in our ordinary lives to love God and our neighbor by offering grace, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, justice and acceptance, we have found the path home. Then we realize the Kingdom of God is indeed near.